Potholes, ‘craters’ in roads : Brace for a bumpy ride in capital

* Islooites say no to toll tax until repair of roads
Potholes, ‘craters’ in roads :  Brace for a bumpy ride in capital

ISLAMABAD: Despite huge public outcry over the poor condition of roads and several environmental problems caused by traffic jams in the city, the situation remains more or less the same. Even the increasing number of accidents and surging level of pollution have not been able to wake the civic authorities up from their slumber.
Fed up with the deteriorating condition of the Islamabad Highway, Murree Road and IJ Principal Road, people have demanded that toll collection on all roads be suspended until the repairs are undertaken.
They complained that the pathetic condition of roads in the federal capital was causing inconvenience to the motorists and causing massive traffic jams. 
Talking to Daily Times, Ashraf Abbasi, a cabbie, complained of potholes in the centre of main highways like the 7th Avenue and its connecting roads.
Citing other examples, he said that the IJ Principal Road – the main link for residents of Rawalpindi city and Cantonment to reach their work places in the federal capital – sectoral roads of I9, I10 and various streets of Sectors G9 and G10 were also in a poor condition. 
“The condition of the road near the Islamabad Railway Station is also no different,” he said.
The efficiency of the CDA in Islamabad seems to be restricted to the Red Zone, Blue Area and VIP sectors. 
Other than these areas, the authorities seem to be only concentrating on beautifying main arteries like the 7th Avenue, 9th Avenue, Nazimuddin Road and Margalla Road, while the road connecting E11, D12, E12 and E13 to the Margalla Road, which is a single-lane road, is totally dilapidated and without any streetlight. Heavy-duty vehicles ply on this road, which makes driving on this thoroughfare very dangerous, especially at night.
The residents complained that a number of accidents take place every day due to the poor condition of roads. They said potholes and cracks in the roads cause severe damage to their vehicles. Zafar Abbas, a public transport driver who plies his vehicle between Islamabad and Rawalpindi, said, “We are paying full vehicle tax as an obligation. It is, therefore, a fundamental right of citizens to have better roads for their vehicles. The whole transport system is badly affected due to the poor condition of roads.”
Though the CDA Engineering Wing carries out patchwork from time to time in different parts of the capital, improving the condition of roads in one go is an unworkable idea for the civic body mainly because of financial constraints.
An official of the CDA Engineering Wing told this scribe that during the current fiscal year the authority had received only Rs 9 million, that too in October, for road maintenance, which according to him was insufficient.
Though the residents of Islamabad pay their taxes for using roads and the ICT administration is collecting around Rs 1.5 billion every year under the head of duty on vehicles registered in the federal capital, the condition of roads remain shabby. 
“We don not use a single penny from the collected amount, as the entire amount is transferred to the accounts of the Interior Ministry,” said a senior official of the ICT administration. “We do not even get anything in return,” he added.
While the ICT administration comes under the Interior Ministry, the CDA, which is responsible for maintaining roads and footpaths, is under the Cabinet Division.
Another official of the CDA Engineering Wing said, “We are gearing up to improve the situation next year, as we are expecting Rs 40 million to reconstruct some roads.” He said that the process was at the estimation stage. “Once that is done, tenders will be invited. We hope to repair all the roads by 2014,” he said.
To a question about the delay in repair of roads, the official said that toll plazas were a major source of earning for the civic body, but a few were abolished on the directives of the interior minister.
He said that through the IJ Principal Road toll plaza, the CDA used to generate Rs 15 million a month, but it was abolished. 
He also said that the Kashmir Highway toll plaza near Golra Morr generated Rs 9 million a month, which too was shut down on November 6.
He said that the Islamabad toll plaza at Rawat – which had been generating around Rs 5 million a month – would be closed on January 17, 2014.
The official said that construction work on many projects had been stopped due to the indifference of the federal government towards the authority and financial hurdles.
According to a survey conducted by Daily Times, the road from NDC to 7Up Chowk – being used by heavy traffic – now presents an ugly look due to potholes hand cracks that have developed there.
The entire road, especially near the Islamabad Railway Station and I10/3 industrial area, is in a very bad shape and several vehicles have met with accidents in this section.
Besides that, there were big holes in the centre of the road in front of H9 College. A large portion of the Kashmir Road between Peshawar Morr and G10 turning is also in a shabby condition. Furthermore, roads and footpaths in F10, F11 and E11 are in bad shape and require urgent repair work. 
The road, which branches off from the Margalla Road to E11 and D12, is not only dilapidated but also dangerous. Moreover, this long route is without any traffic signal.
When contacted, an official of the CDA PR department said that maintenance of all the roads was carried out on a regular basis. He said that the repair and maintenance work on all the roads would be completed as soon as possible.

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